Citadel, DirecTV in Retrans Showdown

Three Midwest stations may go dark for satellite subscribers
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Citadel Communications is butting heads with DirecTV over retransmission consent for three of its stations. ABC affiliate WOI Des Moines, ABC affiliate KLKN Lincoln (Neb.) and CBS affiliate WHBF Davenport feature "special advisories" on their websites, informing viewers that the stations will go dark for DirecTV subscribers at midnight March 31 if a new deal to carry the stations' signals is not reached.

"Regrettably, our negotiations with DirecTV have reached a point where it appears unlikely that a new agreement will be reached by next Wednesday's deadline," read the statement.

Viewers in Davenport, Iowa may be particularly keen to see an agreement worked out, as WHBF has the March Madness basketball action.

DirecTV countered that it was negotiating in good faith. "DirecTV's contract with the Citadel-owned ABC stations in Des Moines, Iowa, and Lincoln, Neb., and the CBS station in Davenport, Iowa, is expiring on March 31.  We have been negotiating in good faith to try and reach a resolution and will continue to do so," said DirecTV Executive VP of Programming Derek Chang in a statement. "If an agreement is not reached by the deadline, we intend to continue to provide the stations as we have for many years unless Citadel demands that we take them away from our customers. If the stations come down after the deadline, make no mistake, it will be solely and completely the station owner's (Citadel's) decision to take the channels away from our customers."

Citadel Communications is part of Capital Communications Company.

The Citadel stations say they've taken a "quite reasonable" approach to the negotiations. "We are also asking DirecTV to compensate us fairly for the right to 're-sell' our programming," said the statement. "Importantly, our request is a fraction of what DirecTV is paying other program providers who have no local ties to our community, and whose ratings are a fraction of [the stations]."

Capital Communications President-COO/WOI Des Moines General Manager Ray Cole did not return a call at presstime.

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